Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Anti-Violence Alliance hosts various educational events for the month of April

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and it’s full of on-campus and virtual events to deepen people’s understanding of the important issue this month highlights.

The Anti-Violence Alliance (AVA) is hosting multiple different events throughout April for students to learn about sexual assault, consent, available resources regarding this subject and more.

“It’s important that we take the time to focus on an issue that impacts so many people, both here at Ferris and in society at large,” Violence Prevention coordinator Raven Hills said. “It doesn’t mean that we forget about or ignore sexual assault for the rest of the year, but it does give us a chance to reflect on this important issue and continue our efforts to stop all forms of sexual violence.”

I attended three of these events so far, and I’m going to share my experiences. My hope is to encourage others to go to the AVA’s events this month as well, so that we all may become more aware that sexual assault is something that happens often and needs to be addressed appropriately.

“What Was I Wearing?” Exhibit

This event has been in the works for the past few months and I’m glad it was able to happen. The AVA hosted the “What Was I Wearing?” exhibit in the UC art gallery. This unique exhibit displayed about six or eight different outfits people were wearing when they were sexually assaulted.

The purpose of this event is to show that clothes aren’t the real issue when it comes to being a victim of sexual violence and assault. Even today, some people believe that women who wear “inappropriate” clothing are “asking for it,” when in reality, that’s just not true; no one is ever asking to be sexually assaulted.

Before I entered the exhibit, the AVA members informed me that if I needed a place to decompress afterwards, there was a room available nearby. There I could play with some silly putty, color a picture and talk with a counselor if I needed to. I thanked them and headed into the exhibit.

Displayed before me were the individual outfits and anonymous stories of those who’ve been sexually assaulted in their life. Sweatpants, school uniforms and other casual clothing hung up on the wall. These people weren’t asking for it.

Each story made my heart break more and more. It was so important to read these stories and to look at their outfits, because it proves that the source of the issue is completely different than what too many people believe.

The “What Was I Wearing?” exhibit was powerful and really made me think about my own perception of sexual assault.

“Is It Consent?” BINGO

I then attended the AVA’s virtual “Consent Bingo” event on zoom. The purpose of this event was to educate and explain the various methods of giving or not giving consent, because it’s not always a simple “yes” or “no.”

I picked my BINGO card, and an AVA member spun a virtual wheel with phrases on it. When the wheel landed on the phrase “Sure?,” the players would each give their reasoning for why the phrase was or was not consent. The phrase “Sure?” is not consent because there is still uncertainty in the answer and doesn’t appear to be a form of an enthusiastic “yes.”

Here are some of the words we landed on during the round and whether or not they indicate consent:

“Sure?” – not consent.

“Totally” – consent.

“Sure!” – consent. 

“Maybe” – not consent.

“Not Right Now” – not consent.

The AVA members also explained that it’s important to check in with the partner and if they’re still comfortable with everything. Consent can be taken away at any point if someone begins to feel uncomfortable or changes their mind.

This virtual event helped me better understand the ways to give or not give consent. I think we all could learn a lot from some consent BINGO. I also won an AVA mug for getting a BINGO, so that was pretty cool too.

5-Star Event with Kalimah Johnson

Another virtual event I attended was a 5-Star event with speaker Kalimah Johnson, executive director and founder of the Sexual Assault Services for Holistic Healing and Awareness (SASHA) Center in Detroit. Johnson is also a sexual assault survivor.

The SASHA Center is a non-profit organization and sexual assault service, prevention and educational agency that gives resources to sexual assault survivors.

Their mission is “to promote and increase healing for survivors of sexual assault by using alternative/non-traditional techniques for women of color with a special emphasis on African American women, thereby eradicating the fear, shame and guilt, as well as any barriers associated with being sexually assaulted through peer educational support groups and prevention strategies.”

One of the first slides Johnson went through was a quote from Angela Davis is 1989: “Black women were and continue to be sorely in need of an anti-rape movement.”

Johnson created the SASHA Center because she and many others wanted to “intentionally and unapologetically” help women in the Black community by providing support groups and non-traditional healing methods. She mentioned the center’s important phrase “#healingispossible.”

The SASHA Center uses culturally sensitive techniques when helping women heal, including story telling humor, irony, satire, prayer, and more.

The SASHA Center also uses the “Black Women’s Triangulation of Rape” model in their practices. It shows how sexual assault impacts Black women specifically and all of the barriers they face when in need of sexual assault services.

Johnson is an intelligent, kind and determined woman. During her presentation, she would often check in with the viewers to see how we were feeling or if we had any questions or comments. Johnson wanted to inspire us to learn and do something with the knowledge and resources we have to help others.

For more information regarding the SASHA Center, please visit

Sexual Assault Awareness

“My hope is that the events give students more knowledge about sexual assault and sparks a culture change in the ways we talk about sexual assault, its causes and the roles each of us can play in eliminating it,” Hills said.

The AVA and other groups discuss topics like these year-round and would love to continue the conversations outside the month of April. Talking about sexual assault, consent and providing resources and help to people affected by sexual assault is important to ending the unnecessary violence people all over the world face.

I have learned and will continue to do so. These events were inspiring for me, and I hope it was for others as well.

The AVA still has more events people can attend throughout the month of April. Educating and fighting to expunge sexual violence will keep on going after the month ends.